'Save U.K. Film Council' campaign hits web

Facebook site sees 10,000 supporters within first 24 hours

LONDON -- A campaign to save the U.K. Film Council from being shuttered by the British coalition government as part of its cost-cutting drive is taking off in cyberspace just days after the axe fell.

Tens of thousands of webheads have signed an online petition to save the council set up online by John Underwood, a former director of communications for the Labour Party, who was in power 10 years ago when the Council was given the greenlight.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's move on Monday to close down the Council prompted 10,500 people to sign up to save it, supported by a Facebook group called "Save the U.K. Film Council" which currently boasts just shy of 17,000 supporters.

Hunt's decision came as part of a cost-cutting drive by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport looking to save an estimated £15 million ($23 million) -- the council's current annual budget.

Underwood's petition states: "The U.K. Film Council was founded in 2000. Since its creation the U.K.'s core film industry has increased its contribution to our economy by 50% to £4.3 billion ($6.7 billion), and directly provides jobs for almost 44,000 people."

He also calls the government decision an attack on cultural spending and calls cuts in cultural spending in the face of economic hardship "short-sighted at the best of times."

"Join this group and pass on the message to show Mr Hunt that stripping away potential for our future film-makers is a huge mistake for one of the world's most creative countries."

Twitter members have also started a #saveUKFilmCouncil and are retweeting links to the petition and the Facebook group.

People questioning whether or not such social media efforts will make a difference or not are also being reminded that a hard fought and very public campaign to save BBC 6 Music from closure earlier this year certainly did no harm in getting the decision reversed by the public broadcasting giant.